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New NHL proposal sets Jan. 19 deadline to open season

December 28, 2012|By Helene Elliott
  • Bill Daly, deputy commissioner of the NHL, and Steve Fehr of the NHL Players Assn., address the media following negotiations earlier this month.
Bill Daly, deputy commissioner of the NHL, and Steve Fehr of the NHL Players… (Bruce Bennett / Getty Images )

An amended collective bargaining proposal made by the NHL late Thursday to the players union includes a deadline to open training camps by Jan. 12 for a Jan. 19 start to the season or the 2012-13 season will be canceled, according to a source with knowledge of the matter but not authorized to speak about it publicly.

The source also confirmed earlier reports by many media outlets, led by ESPN.com, that the league had softened its stance on several key issues that had fueled the two sides' differences.

A Jan. 19 start would allow for a 48-game season, as the league played following a labor dispute that delayed the 1994-95 season.

Players are expected to discuss the proposal via conference call Friday and will probably make a counterproposal. NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said in a statement that the league had made “a new, comprehensive proposal” late Thursday, but he would not disclose the details.

It’s believed the NHL stayed firm on a 10-year term for the next labor deal, with an opt-out clause after eight years. Its “make-whole” offer of $300 million also remains intact as a means of easing players’ transition from last season’s 57% share of hockey-related revenues to a 50-50 split.

The NHL, which had previously proposed a five-year limit on player contracts with an exception of seven-year deals for teams to re-sign their own free agents, proposed a six-year limit while keeping the seven-year exception. It also increased the year-to-year variance allowed within a contract to 10% from 5% and would allow each team to buy out one player as a “compliance” issue as the new labor deal goes into effect. The amount of that player’s contract would not count against the team’s salary cap figure but would count toward players’ share of hockey-related revenues.

The salary cap next season would be set at $60 million and there would be no limit on escrow. The NHl Players Assn. had wanted a limit on escrow and had wanted buyouts, so it remains to be seen if players will accept the league’s latest proposal on that point.

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